Jack Trudeau Q&A


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One of the best quarterbacks in Illinois history, Jack Trudeau is discovering that watching football is more nerve-wracking than playing it. A father of four, Trudeau is a regular at his oldest son's games at Zionsville (Ind.) High School. "It's tough to watch sometimes," saiid Trudeau, who will join a bevy of former Illini greats at this weekend's Renaissance celebration at Memorial Stadium. A successful businessman in the Indianapolis area, Trudeau took time to talk about his son's football career, Ron Zook's Illini and his Rose Bowl ring with sports editor JIM ROSSOW.

JR: I suppose your son wears No. 10 and is quarterback.

JT: John's a sophomore and is No. 10 and plays quarterback. But he's only 125 pounds and hasn't reached puberty yet. It's hard to play quarterback when you're that small. Mentally he's there but not physically yet.

JR: When does he commit to Illinois?

JT: In his mind, there's only one place he's going and that's Champaign. He's been going to Illinois games since he was in diapers. There's no question where he wants to go.

JR: But you said your oldest daughter went to Indiana.

JT: It's called in-state tuition. Plus all her friends are there so I'm OK with it.

JR: If a football game breaks out at this weekend's reunion, your Rose Bowl team wins, right?

JT: I hate to be braggadocious and to flatter myself, I don't know with the possible exception of what we're seeing now that any team was as athletic or had the speed that we had during that 1983-84-85 time frame. Now, Dick Butkus was one of the greatest players in college football, but that was a different era. The bottom line is that we were pretty good.

JR: You know it's been 25 years since that Rose Bowl game?

JT: You always wonder if you made the right choice in picking a school. Did I do the right thing? Those years were so special and so much fun. Every time I put that Rose Bowl ring on my finger, I have great feelings. I went to the Rose Bowl (in January) - a lot of us were there and we had a great time. That team had a great mix of old guys and young guys. After we lost to Missouri (in the opener), no one expected to win 10 straight.

JR: If Illinois wins Saturday, any chance you storm the field and tear down a goal post the way fans did after most of your wins in 1983?

JT: It was different then, the way the whole thing created a fan frenzy. At the time they were starved for a winner in the football program, and I was lucky to play there those years. Every game was a complete sellout. We knew that every weekend the atmosphere was going to be great. Illinois hasn't done anything since the Butkus era, and when it happened the people were excited.

JR: There's excitement about this year's team, too.

JT: I was at the Missouri game, and you could see the speed and talent they have. It's fun to see Illinois get back to where we were in the 80s and when Butkus played.

JR: Can Illinois sustain it?

JT: I think what happens is coaches in general they have success and then they don't remember what it took to be successful. You have to recruit. You can be a great coach but if you don't bring in the players you're going to fail. That's been true at any program. Look at Notre Dame. If they don't recruit the right kids, they fail. It can be sustained as long as Ron Zook and his staff work their tail ends off like they have been.

JR: You turn 46 on Tuesday. Any thoughts of a comeback?

JT: I don't move very well any more because of all my knee injuries. But I'll tell you what: I can still wing it.

JR: That's why they selected you as one of the "10 greatest quarterbacks in Memorial Stadium."

JT: It looks like that list will be 11 in a couple years. Juice (Williams) has a chance to make that list if he keeps playing the way he has been.

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